February 20, 2017

Is your wayfinding partner profiling your patients?

5 minute read




Big data is said to be transforming the way we interact with consumers. As we go about our daily business, we leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs. Only these breadcrumbs aren't there to help us find our way home. Instead, they're used to profile us.

Here's how it works. A user visits a hospital, downloads the facility’s app to their mobile device and allows the app to access their location. By clicking “I Agree” to an app’s terms, users don’t realize that they are essentially inviting developers to follow and log their every move, even after they have left the hospital and stopped running the app. The app now records that user's movements; what Wi-Fi network they connect to, what building they enter, and even what businesses they visit.

Over time these digital breadcrumbs are used by companies to create a user profile. For example, they know that Jenny takes transit to work at 8:30 am, stops at her favorite coffee shop at 9:00 am, and walks into her office at 9:15 am every morning. In fact, they even know what content Jenny viewed on the ride to work. App developers collect this data to build a profile on Jenny and can in turn sell this information to advertising partners. Companies then use it to target specific ‘in app’ adverts at Jenny, for instance, a discount on a Latte designed to draw her out of her usual coffee shop and into a different one when she gets off the bus.

Jenny may well appreciate the experience, and likely thinks the coupon is coincidental. But what happens when Jenny visits a hospital that doesn’t have control over who might have access to her indoor navigation data? How secure is her data? Is it being used to build a profile as she moves through the hospital? These are important questions to answer when using a 3rd party wayfinding application. It is likely that Jenny's data is being used to create a profile, and in the process, potentially breaching patient confidentiality.

According to John Lynn, founder of HealthcareScene.com, the primary concern for hospital CIOs, the thing that is keeping them awake at night, is data security. Protecting and securing patient records is top of the priority list, along with improving patient experience and operational efficiency. However, one should not be sacrificed at the cost of another. When hospital administrators overlook the risk of outsourcing indoor wayfinding systems and location-aware technologies fall out of the realm of their control, they stand to lose control of patient data. On the surface, it doesn't seem like anything to worry about; the company is using location information to help create a better patient experience. However, when these little crumbs of location-data are combined, they create a very precise patient profile.

As Jenny moves through the hospital, undergoing a battery of tests and viewing content about her condition on her mobile device, she leaves a trail of data crumbs. The company providing the indoor wayfinding app or platform collects her location data, and based on her movements and consultations, determines Jenny has likely been diagnosed with a form of cancer. Her profile becomes valuable to pharmaceutical companies and other medical vendors, willing to purchase the data from the app provider. And while you aim to create a better patient experience and improve operational efficiency, you are inadvertently exposing confidential patient-related information.

There is no doubt that indoor navigation systems can dramatically improve patient health care. At Jibestream we are dedicated to creating exceptional experiences for patients visiting your hospital, but not at the expense of their confidential data. When talking to other indoor wayfinding vendors, make sure to check the details of their software license agreement to understand exactly who owns and has access to your patient profile data. Our Indoor Intelligence mapping platform integrates with your existing web and mobile apps, ensuring that patient data remains in the realm of your control. 




Jody Shaffer

Jody Shaffer is the VP of Marketing for Inpixon. Beyond her passion for marketing, Jody aspires to run a half marathon. She gets lots of practice chasing her two young daughters around the house.

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